Shots, socks offered for needy at North Side mission
By Alex Nixon
Published: Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, 10:01 p.m.
Mike Johnson grimaced as the needle went into the upper part of his left arm.
Seconds later, with the influenza vaccine delivered, Johnson was smiling again.
“I can't stand needles,” said Johnson, 47, of the North Side.
Johnson was one of dozens to receive a free flu shot and a pair of socks on a cold Thanksgiving Day at the Light of Life Rescue Mission in the North Side. Organized by the Allegheny County Health Department and the county Immunization Coalition, the “Shots & Socks” event aimed to bring free vaccinations to homeless people eating Thanksgiving dinner at the mission.
“This was the perfect venue,” said Sharon Silvestri, chief of the health department's infectious disease program, to reach a typically under-served population that can be particularly vulnerable to seasonal flu.
Light of Life was expecting 500 to 1,000 people to show up for its free dinner Thursday, an annual event that also included giveaways of blankets and other cold-weather gear.
Mayor-elect Bill Peduto spent about an hour at the mission serving dinner, a volunteering activity he said he's performed on and off for the last 15 years.
“My job is to bring attention to what they do here every day,” Peduto said.
Silvestri said the coalition decided this year to focus its outreach on homeless people, especially those who spend time in shelters because they can easily spread the illness when living in close quarters.
Many adults do not get flu shots, and homeless people often can't afford the vaccination, she said.
“There aren't a lot of places to get a free vaccination,” said Nancy Scopelitis, a county public health nurse volunteering at the event.
Only about 41 percent of American adults received a flu shot last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 44 out of every 100,000 Americans was hospitalized last year with the flu, the CDC said.
John Smith, 63, of Avalon made his way to the mission by bus just to get his shot. He didn't have the money to pay for one the past two years and fell ill.
“When it's offered to you, you get it,” Smith said.
But not everyone who showed up for dinner wanted a shot.
The health department received 200 doses from the state, but Silvestri said only 37 were given out.
“This is our first year so you never know,” she said.
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man found shot twice, dead in Larimer
- Work on tournament-class dek hockey rink in Bloomfield to begin
- Officials ID Elizabeth Township man as West End train victim
- Bullied South Fayette student’s case prompts wiretap overhaul legislation
- South Fayette parents express dissatisfaction with handling of bullying
- South Fayette mother wants case against bullied son to be dropped
- Legal experts question prosecuting South Fayette boy for recording bullies
- Allegheny County employees sticking with Highmark to save money, send message
- Newsmaker: Linda J. O’Neill
- Obama hopes to replicate CCAC job training efforts across United States
- District attorney’s office takes paperwork from Wilkinsburg Middle School